Well it seems the opening salvos has been fired in what is sure to be a highly physical and competitive Eastern Conference Finals between the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.
After eliminating the New York Knicks from the playoffs last night, Pacers head coach Frank Vogel made reference to the defending champs as “just the team” in his postgame remarks.
Well, according to a story via Michael Wallace of ESPN, James didn’t appreciate the reference or Vogel’s condescending tone.
“We’re not just another team,” James said. “I don’t understand what he’s saying. But we’re not just another team. That’s not true. He said we’re just another team in their way. We’re a great team. If we’re just another team, you really don’t prepare for just another team. You have to prepare for us.”
The Pacers and Heat are familiar foes and have exchanged bitter words in the past. Vogel was fined $15,000 last year during their matchup in the playoffs for referring to them as a flopping team.
LeBron says Vogel’s words won’t be used as motivation and that his team is ready and their confident.
“We’re very confident,” James said. “We’ll be ready for them. We don’t need bulletin-board material. We’ve heard everything, we’ve seen everything. But I would say we’re not just another team, though.”
The reigning league MVP, also expects the series to be as physical as it was last season and says that’s the strategy most teams try to employ against them.
“We’re ready for whatever,” James said. “I believe it’s going to be like last series. They’re going to try to put me on the floor, maybe. Be physical with me, maybe. I don’t know. Every team kind of does the same thing. They kind of read what everyone else talks about [and say], ‘You have to beat up the Heat to beat them.’ We’ll see what happens.”
The Pacers are the only team in the East Conference that has a legitimate chance to beat the Heat, but I still see the reigning champions disposing of them and going to the NBA Finals.
Regardless of what LeBron says, the Heat will use Vogel’s words as motivation and come out of the gates firing when Game 1 tips off on Wednesday.